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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Record Snowfall Cuts Power, Paralyzes Traffic in Far East

Heavy snowstorms fueled by a cyclone swept Tuesday across the Far East, cutting off power, paralyzing traffic and forcing the deployment of troops to rescue drivers who got stuck in what meteorologists called a record-setting storm.

In Vladivostok, the military sent out armored personnel carriers to help tow trolley buses, trucks and other vehicles stranded on slick roads. At least four people were injured in accidents caused by the snow and poor visibility, police said. Power in the city and surrounding areas was cut off for hours Tuesday after snow stuck to power lines, causing them to snap in the strong winds.

Up to 40 centimeters fell in Vladivostok over the course of the day, Itar-Tass reported. In outlying villages, the snowfall was up to 50 centimeters.

"It is a unique event when in the space of 12 hours we have double the [monthly] average [of snow]," said Boris Kubai, head of the Primorye regional weather center. "It is the first such case in 50 years."

Three children sledding from the roof of a warehouse in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on the Far Eastern Sakhalin Island, died after they were buried in snow, Interfax reported.

Also Tuesday, an icebreaker picked up a group of fishermen stranded on an ice floe in the Gulf of Finland. Two of six fishermen left adrift in the gulf had been picked up earlier by border guards, but heavy ice foiled attempts to rescue the remaining four by lifeboat, helicopter and hovercraft. Officials said that despite recent storm warnings and advisories about the weakness of the ice, hundreds of fisherman had ventured out on the ice over the weekend.

In Moscow, four people died of exposure overnight, where temperatures plunged to minus 27 degrees Celsius. In all, 297 people have frozen to death in the capital this winter, according to city health authorities. (AP, Reuters)